Adam

 

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Introduction

I would like to thank everyone who has read, commented and supported me while writing this. 

 

 

 

 

I have been asked who the boy is on the front cover. He is George Hewit, who I am sure you will hear about in the future as he is a very talented singer and musician. He very kindly agreed to pose for the cover of Adam. Here is the link to his bandFresco muy funky on youtube.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKs4zoi8llw

 

 

 

 The world is in crisis, so when scientists think they have found the solution in the male contraceptive. A vaccination program on a global scale is rolled out. But it has a nasty side effect and soon the human race is staring extinction square in the face.

So the Adam program is initiated and a select group of genetically engineered boys are raised to keep the human race going.

When the home one of these boys lives in is attacked, he finds himself plunged into a world that is both frightening and fascinating at the same time.

Celina's mission has been a disaster from the start her boy didn't get out and she is left with another boy not her genetic match and Gen-Corp the company that own him, are taking his abduction badly. As the death toll grows around the boy Celina realizes it’s not just his life she needs to protect but hers as well.

Celina has to call on all her resources and contacts if she stands any chance of getting the boy to Ireland and safety as it becomes apparent that he is no ordinary boy, he is something else.

As Celina spends more time with him her feelings toward him grow, but he cannot be hers he is not her genetic match. As he starts to question her about her role in society and what his will be, he starts to question her motives and the motives of the organisation she works for. Did he really need rescuing at all.

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legoengineer

I love this book, the only thing I would do is go back and check spelling and repetition mistakes.

Kaelyn Tindall

I've been enjoying this story all day. You've got me hooked!

Laura Cordero

Hey Claire, great story - I love the concept and excited to read more a bit later on (gotta get back to work!)

I hope you don't mind me pointing these out, but I found 3 small typos in Chapter 1 that spellcheck would've easily missed:

- 8 pages from chapter 1, right at the top, it says

"Your very quiet," Matthew, the boy that invited me to play earlier nudges me.

Should be "You're"

- on the last page of Chapter 1:

He flicks through the book and looks at some of my other drawings, "Your quite good" he smiles, "oh another one of me, god I'm good looking, you know if I..."

Also should be "You're"

- And the last paragraph of Chapter 1:

Its film night and we wander down the corridor collecting our popcorn

Should be "It's"

So easy to miss these as spellcheck wouldn't pick them up.

Once again really love the concept, and can't wait to read more of it. :)

Thanks!

Taran J Hook

this is a really interesting concept! Definitely adding to the reading list

Chapter One Home

  

Glancing out at the winter scene beyond the window my fingers guide the pencil across the paper. Scrunching my face in concentration I block out the sounds of the boys playing in the snow as I try to capture the energy and enthusiasm of their robust game.

“Adam, where are you?” A gust of freezing air follows the voice as Mathew bursts into the room. He shuffles over to the fire and sits as close to it as he can get without setting himself on fire.

“Why? What is going on?” His damp dishevelled state brings a smile to my face. His auburn hair is plastered to his forehead and his face is pinker than normal. This suggests to me that he was somehow involved in the snowball fight, possibly the instigator. He watches me drawing for a bit before answering

“Oh, they are organising a snowball fight between the Mothers and the boys, if you’re interested.” His gaze travels to my face as his mouth turns up in a smile, his green eyes shining.

“Oh, I see. Do you mind if I pass?” Sucking my pencil I study my drawing a small frown marring my otherwise perfect features.

“Nah, I told them you would say that.” He grins back and gets to his feet, warming his hands against the fire one last time. He wanders over to the door puts his hand on the handle and turns to me.

 “Catch you later,” he chimes before pulling it closed behind him. My solitude is short lived however as I soon hear the voice of my Mother.

“Adam, Adam, sample time,” she says in a sing song voice. She opens the door and steps inside, smiling at me, waggling a sample pot in her fingers. Her impossibly high heels clacking on the wooden floor, long blonde hair loose down her back.

“Why weren’t you outside?” She asks, sitting on the sofa to my side. Well, sitting isn’t quite right, perching would be more accurate. She crosses her long slender legs.

Taking in her form-fitting dress and low neckline that doesn’t leave much to the imagination I shrug my shoulders meeting her gaze. “Didn’t feel like it.”  

“Oh, are you ill?” She reaches out and strokes my face with her fingers, before ruffling my blond hair. She does this on purpose, as she knows I hate her messing with my hair.

“No, I’m fine,” a frown forming with annoyance as I growl at her and push her hand away. Her lips twitch as she suppresses a smile.

“Good, right, well, sample time, are you ready or do you want some help?” she runs her hand up my inner thigh stroking and caressing.

“No, I don’t need any help.” Her hand rests on my crotch, closing my eyes, relaxing my body. “Do we have to do this can’t we just skip it today? I’m not feeling too into it.” casting my eyes upward I wait for her reaction.

“You weren’t feeling very into it last time either, or were you unwell? It’s difficult to keep track. Come on what’s gotten into you?”

“It’s just what’s the rush? If there are only so many samples that can be taken, why the big hurry to get them all out of the way now? Why can’t we…you know space them out a bit, take it easy?”

“Adam not collecting your sample will not stop you from being retired at twenty, that’s just the way it works honey. All that will happen is that I will get into trouble for not meeting my quota. I can’t keep making excuses for you.” Worry in her voice as her eyes sweep over my body.

“But I don’t want to be retired at twenty. I want to have a nice long happy life. And what with the downturn hardly anyone can afford to buy an Adam nowadays, what if nobody wants me and I don’t sell?” I complained not that I want that either, I want to be my own person, not some woman’s property.

“Oh come on Adam, there are still plenty of women out there with more money than sense. And who wouldn’t want to buy a Lil’ cutey like you, huh…coochie coo.” She jokes pulling at my cheek.

“Aaah stop.” I laugh pushing her hand away and mock scowling.

“Now come on let’s stop messing around and let me get this sample so we can both get on with our lives.” She says suddenly all business again.

“Alright fine.” I agree petulantly.

So here I am, lying on the couch, while a stunningly attractive woman strokes and generally coaxes me to perform, so she can collect my sample.

 I am an Adam one of many hidden around the world. I am the property of a company called Gen-Corp. Gen-Corp are specialists in genetics, human genetics and I was created in one of their laboratories. At seventeen I am an example of genetic and by extension, physical perfection. Blond hair, blue eyes, and perfectly proportioned features, at just six foot and lightly muscled, I was bred to an exact specification.

 

“Oh, you are a good boy,” she coo’s, as I pick up my book to distract myself from what she’s doing.

“Well done sweetheart,” she bends and kisses my forehead, as I try my level best to focus on my book.

In my mind, this was the last straw, my final chance at convincing Gen-Corp not to retire me. As far as I could see this was the tipping point, there was no other option for me now than to escape.

I feign rapt fascination with my book until she is forced to leave the room. I give it a couple of minutes then spring to my feet, creeping quickly towards the door to the room and peering gingerly into the hallway. As I suspected it is deserted with everyone distracted by the snow ball fight. I sneak down the hall way and up a flight of service stairs at the end to the first-floor landing.

Where the ground floor is made up of leisure and dining space this floor is split between administrative offices and the Mothers private quarters. I am not supposed to be up here and will have to answer some pretty difficult questions if I am caught.

I sneak along the corridor occasionally peering into the deserted offices or listening out for the sound of someone coming. Fortunately, no one is around. I creep along until I find one of the doors to the Mothers rooms lodged open by some dirty clothes. Despite the fact that they are always telling us to be clean and tidy some of them can be quite messy.

I enter the room like a ninja and start carefully rummaging through the pockets of the discarded clothes searching for a key card that will allow me to get through one of the external doors into the gardens.

Having no luck amongst the clothes I turn my attention to the bedside tables finally hitting the jackpot under a stack of papers next to the Mothers bed. The doors in and out of the home close and lock automatically and I was never going to escape unless I had one of these key-cards to open them again.

Successful, I leave the room, careful to leave it in a similar state to the way I found it. I hurry quickly back along the landing and down the stairs to the ground floor, the key-card safely stuffed in my pocket, and back towards the drawing room where I had been reading.

I re-enter the room to find my Mother there waiting for me. “Sweetheart, where have you been, I thought you were reading your book?” A look of curiosity upon her face, my book in her hand.

“I erm…I was just on the toilet.” I quickly lie hoping she’ll buy it.

“Really? You were gone a while.” She presses standing up and walking towards me. She takes my hand, her eyes scanning every feature of my face.

“Yes well if you must ask it would appear lunch didn’t really agree with me.” I continue blushing profusely.

“Oh right well…come along now dinner is ready.” She replies blushing slightly herself now.

“Yes, let's go,” I reply, yawning and stretching like an old tomcat.

“Adam, why didn’t you join in with the other boys today?”

I shrug.

She looks at me waiting for a verbal reason and a sigh escapes my lips. “I don’t know I wanted to but…I just I had a lot on my mind I guess.” I shrug again, this time trying not to give anything away under her scrutiny.

“Oh Adam, you worry too much, you are a good boy and always have been. You need to forget all this nonsense about retiring and just enjoy the time you have.” She pulls me up and links her arm with mine. Hugging me into her side as we walk along the corridor, she can never understand how frightened and trapped I feel. The numb feeling that has replaced the sadness at this realisation settles around me, within me.

A cacophony of noise assaults my ears as I enter the dining room. I stop to take in the ornate plaster and freezes that decorate the walls. The stately home that we live in with its grand elegant decorations taken from a bygone age never fails to amaze me. It’s such a calm refined contrast to the chaos and drama of its residents, as the boys boisterously eat their dinner. Mother kisses me on the cheek before walking across the polished wooden floor to the table that all the Mothers sit at.

The delicious scent of roast chicken dinner wafts around me, causing my stomach to growl in anticipation. Dodging the kitchen and dining staff bustling around the room clearing plates and already bringing out dessert, I make my way past the rows of tables, each packed with boys of varying ages chattering and eating their dinner. Finding my place, I sit down, pleased to see my dinner already on the table waiting for me. Taking my seat I listen to the conversation going on around me as they discuss the snowball fight; I smile at their boyish enthusiasm.

“You’re very quiet,” Mathew nudges me as I fork a roast potato. Popping it into my mouth as his intense green eyes watch my every move, I feel heat warm my cheeks at his scrutiny.

“Adam are you still worrying about me going?” he asks as I eat my potato.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“I will be fine. Mother has a match for me,” he beams at me and my eyes widen with surprise.

“Really? Who?” Swallowing my food I turn to look at him, how can he be so excepting.

“I don’t know but she is high ranked,” he grins at me. “So I will be fine little dude,” he chuckles and ruffles my hair.

“Get off.” I push his arm away and straighten my hair glaring at him as he laughs.

“You are so grumpy today.”

 “Yeah, sorry, tired I guess,” I answer; finishing my dinner I gaze at my pudding, chocolate sponge and custard, I don’t fancy it and push it away.

“Oh, you gonna eat that?” Mathew asks eyeing my pudding.

“No, do you want it?” I don’t know why I am asking as I know the answer.

“Yes please.” He pulls the bowl to him and starts to demolish it with gusto. “Film night tomorrow, are you going?” He asks pushing the now empty bowl away.

“Oh, yes,” I reply with a grin, he gets up as his Mother calls him.

“I will come and get you and we can sit together?” I nod and he smiles before sauntering off with his Mother, one more milking before bed. I sigh and push my chair out climbing to my feet as my own Mother calls me. 

****

Climbing out of bed I move to the window, pushing back the curtain, peering outside. The snow has stopped. It is early, just gone five. I have a good couple of hours before breakfast and the first milking. Getting dressed as quickly as I can I do up my chinos and pull a warm navy sweater over my head. Sitting on my bed I pull on some thick socks and grab my boots not putting them on. Moving over to the door of my room, carefully pulling it open I check the hall. It is deserted; obviously, no other idiot would be up at this time. My feet make no noise on the plush brown carpet as I creep past the other boy’s rooms taking the stairs two at a time. I finally reach the door to the garden and drop my boots to the floor. Pushing my feet inside and doing up the laces I glance back down the hall toward the stairs, checking no one has heard me. No mother about to call me back. Reaching into my pocket I pull out the stolen key card and hold it against the sensor next to the door. The moment of truth, after a brief moment of hesitation the sensor flashes green and the door clicks open. I reach out my hand pushing the handle and nudging the door open.

Standing in the doorway inhaling the crisp fresh air as it fills my lungs. The cold tingles on my skin, listening to the hushed whispering noise that snow seems to make telling the secrets of the things it has buried. I gaze around, no one is about, I know armed guards patrol the perimeter fence, and I will have to be careful to avoid them if I don’t want to get caught.

Taking my first step into the snow, marvelling at the delicious sound it makes as it crunches under my boot. I make my way around the house towards the small wood just on the south side of the fence. Checking I am not being watched, I crawl through the gap in the fence feeling the bite of cold snow on my legs.

I find a large oak tree to sit under and gaze upward at the soaring trunks around me that seem to be teaming with life even though it is winter. Their branches are so intermingled that they still form a canopy despite not having any leaves. I scrape away what little snow there is and sit down.

I smile gleefully, I had done it I had actually escaped…now what? I shiver and cross my arms trying to warm myself up. The wind is beginning to howl now and the woods seem to be getting spookier and spookier by the minute. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea I think to myself. Where am I going to sleep? What am I going to eat? Where will I go?

Sitting under the big oak tree I quickly realise that apart from the mechanics of physically escaping from the boys home I hadn’t actually planned this very much at all. If I was going to survive I would need to answer all of these questions before I left. The wind picked up some more and with the initial euphoria of escaping worn off, it was rather miserable and cold out here.

Maybe I’ll go back in, I think to myself before getting up and carefully creeping back through the fence and back into the house. 

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Chapter Two The girl

 

“Mathew you idiot where are you?” I laugh as I run along the corridor. The boards creak beneath my feet, my rubber bottomed shoes squeaking on the varnished wood they didn’t bother to carpet the attic. To be fair only Mathew and I come up here.

“In here.” He shouts as I push the door open to find him stood at a window. He doesn’t turn as the door bangs shut behind me.

 “What you looking at?” I peer over his shoulder smiling at the view. In the distance, I can see the river snaking through the farm land and further off the small town that most the staff come from, brought in and out each day under tight security.

Look at all the people, I have never seen it this busy not even when…” his voice trails off as he feels me stiffen next to him. “Sorry” he drapes an arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

“It’s okay,” but it isn’t, not really. I know what he was going to say and it scares me.

We watch the activity a bit longer before turning and settling down on the bean bags we dragged up here. I place the board between us and start setting my pieces in their places. I am white and Mathew is black. He watches me smiling as he places his. We both pick up our last pawn together laughing at each other we place them on the board at the same time. Then sit contemplating our first moves. My elbows are on my knees as I rest my chin in my hands. Without looking, Mathew is doing the same, his long legs crossed like mine.

“It will be alright,” his gaze locks with mine “you know without me.” He nods his head as if that is the end of it.

“Yeah, I know,” casting my gaze at the game.

“Time will pass quickly and we will see each other again, you are bound to be matched to someone important.” He grins and I half smile back.

“What if it’s all lies,” I blurt unable to hold in the nagging doubts.

“What?” He frowns as his fingers hover over his chess piece.

“What if they just say that to keep us here, stop us from freaking out and escaping?” I am slightly annoyed when he bursts out laughing.

“Adam, man, you think way too much besides you don’t kill your most valuable assets now do you?”

“I suppose” I concede and concentrate on the game. Maybe he is right I try to convince myself, to me neither option is very appealing.

I pack away the game sliding the box against the wall as Mathew stretches his cramped muscles. Surging to my feet and stretching my arms above my head I release the tension in my back from sitting in the same position for so long.

“Time for tea I reckon” Mathew grabs my arm pulling me out the room and along the corridor to the stairs just as my Mother appears. She is dressed down in jeans and a jumper, trainers on her feet.

“Hello Mother, are you okay? You look troubled.” I ask as we walk along the corridor towards her.

“Yes I’m fine, what were you two doing up in the attic?” She asks suspiciously.

“We go up there to play chess,” Mathew answers, “we go up there to play because it is the only place that we get any peace and quiet.” He grins.

“I see, well you shouldn’t really be sneaking off without supervision. From now on we will be keeping better track of all of your movements.” She informs us with an air of finality.

“Oh, why is that?” I asked attempting to sound only mildly interested.

“If you must know, last night security found a set of foot prints through the snow from the house and into the nearby woods. We suspect it was one of the staff but we can’t be taking any chances. As such from now on you shall not go unaccompanied. Fortunately, it did highlight a hole in the perimeter fence that has since been repaired. Now come along it’s time for dinner.” She said before turning around and striding off along the landing. We follow after her in silence while I mentally kick myself for being stupid enough to leave a trail of snowy footprints.

***

Creeping along the back corridor I make my way to what I hope is the deserted library. I am in luck as I push the heavy wooden doors open it becomes apparent that the library is empty and the lights are turned off. Carefully closing the doors behind me I leave the lights off as I move deeper into the library to where the computers are. Sitting at one I turn it on and wait for it to boot up scanning the room to make sure I am still alone. Once I am online I quickly download a map of the surrounding area. That way once I leave the home I’ll at least have a vague idea of where I am going and places to spend the nights. Once the map I need is printed I erase any evidence I have used the computer and then turn it off. Folding the map up I push it into my pocket and leave the library.

***

The house is quiet as I get dressed and rummage through my cupboard to find my tatty old bag from when I was moved to this home after Aaron died. Brushing off the dust, I peer inside, Oh yuk, I take it over to the bin I tip out the mouldy contents of a half-eaten sandwich and a sticky lump that may have been a packet of fruit jellies.

Opening the drawer to my bedside cabinet I grab a bottle of water and a bar of chocolate along with the map I managed to print off from the library computer yesterday evening before I crept into the deserted kitchens and took a large sharp knife. A change of pants and socks along with a spare t shirt are shoved inside along with my most precious possession, my drawing book and small art box containing my pencils and water paints. Moving across the room I look out the window at the snow, it is coming down thick and fast this is my only chance if I want to escape undetected as the snow will hide my footprints. Something tells me tomorrow my freedom will be massively curtailed, grabbing the blanket from my bed.

I reach the back door to the house without incident, but as soon as I had used the stolen card an alarm went off inside the house and search lights lit up the grounds. Although now rather panicking I somehow managed to stick to the plan and instead of making a B-line for the fence, I instead hug the walls of the house and make my way around to where I know the tool shed is. I open it up and slip inside, only just though as it is packed with rusty old lawn mowers with a window on one side and tool bench littered with bits of wood rusty metal. I carry on past it towards a set of draws hidden at the back of the shed. Inside the second from top draw I find what I am looking for, a relatively intact pair of wire cutters.

Suddenly I hear voices, the guards are coming. Instinctively I drop down between the lawn mowers and attempt to crawl under the desk while simultaneously making myself as small as possible. Momentarily the shed is flooded with torchlight as two security guards peer through the window into the shed. My heart pounds in my chest as I am convinced that they can see me.

“It’s empty, come on they are by the back fence I’m telling you.” The guards move on and I am plunged back into darkness. I wait still for a moment in case they come back, and then climb to my feet and leave the tool shed.

If they are going to the back fence then I will have to escape out of one of the other sides. Fortunately, the snow storm has gotten worse and visibility is down to less than five meters now. I cut my way through the fence without incident and squeeze through; unfortunately, the woods that would cover my escape are at the back of the house, while I find myself at the moment stood at the edge of an open field. They will definitely catch me out here; I think to myself and run along the edge of the fence and into the woods.

Once through the woods, I come to the edge of another meadow. It is a sea of white and I can just make out the river snaking on its course, steam drifting into the air above it. I squint looking for the bridge that crosses the river. The snow although falling more softly now is really thick and I struggle to walk. Already I am wet through and can’t feel my fingers from the cold. I can hear dogs barking and people shouting in the woods behind me.

My heart hammers in my chest as I attempt to run through the field. The voices are getting closer as torchlight reflects off the snow at the edge of the wood. I can see the bridge now and desperately urge my aching legs forward to what I hope will offer me some respite from this energy-sapping cold. Before I left the house I found a small cave marked out on the map I had printed off. I am hoping that it will get me out of the cold wind as well as give me a place to hide.

Getting to the bridge, I grip at the hand rail and draw in a ragged breath. I wipe away the snot and tears on the sleeve of my jumper and try to get my bearings a numb feeling growing in the pit of my stomach as the realisation that I am on my own for the first time in my life begins to set in. A feeling of elation engulfs me at my achievement until the sound of the dogs barking pulls me back to my immediate predicament and the cold.

Having crossed the bridge I come to the cliff face, searching along it, my eyes frantically look for the entrance to the cave. Shuffling into the cave I find that it already has people in it sheltering from the storm. No one takes any notice of me as I enter and I hope that they just assume that I’m trying to get out of the storm like them. In the centre of the vast rock cavern, a fire has been lit filling the space with light and heat. I make my way to the back but near enough to the fire to benefit from its heat. Huddling into my blanket I can watch who enters and leaves without attracting any attention. The smell of damp permeates the air around me as more people enter the cave and huddle like me close to the fire drying their clothes.

The adrenalin has worn off now and my body just feels numb and tired, so tired. My clothes are slowly drying and the shivering has stopped thank goodness. Now is the time to formulate a plan I think to myself and begin rummaging in my bag for the map. I am so distracted by this that I almost fail to notice a new woman enter the cave and would have, were it not for the commotion her horse caused. As she lead it into the cave with her.

Her piercing green eyes scanned the cave and for a moment settle on me, like she can see right through the blanket and knows exactly who and what I am. Butterflies fill my stomach as our eyes lock, and I instinctively understand that she knows. I watch as she ties the horse up and talks to it, before walking directly toward me. Sweat runs down my neck as fear grips me and I feel physically sick as I watch her progress toward me. I can’t run, people will notice me so instead I reach slowly into my bag and wrap my fingers around the large knife hiding in there. Paralysing fear glues me to my place as she sits down next to me.

 “It isn’t safe here, the Security will find you. In a minute I will get up and leave, you will wait a couple of minutes and then follow me okay, nod if you understand.” I shake my head vigorously scowling at her.

 “I don’t know you why should I trust you?”

“You don’t have to trust me you just have to be smart enough to realise that you have a choice, you can stay here in this cave and be caught or killed. Continue going it alone and get lost in the storm right before you die of hypothermia. Or you can come with me and might actually make it to freedom.”

With the full gravity of my situation laid out before me, I realise that maybe going with her wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Besides I wasn’t relishing the thought of travelling alone.

“How do I know you are not from the home?” I hiss wary that the other people in the cave could be listening in on our conversation.

“If I was with Gen Corp don’t you think that I would have bought there security with me or gone and got them as soon as I saw you, Adam?” She replies and I can’t tell if she knows my name or is just saying what I am for effect.

“Alright fine, I’ll meet you by the old oak in the field east of here in twenty minutes,” I reply and she climbs to her feet. “Make it ten.” She commands as she walks towards the mouth of the cave. She is stopped on the way by a skinny underfed dark skinned girl.

 “Celina girl, where did you get that fancy horse?” the skinny girl runs her hand over the horses flank.

“I got that job, he comes with it.” She is lying, the smile on her face is forced not reaching her eyes. “I was running an errand when I got caught in this storm,” she adds holding eye contact with the girl as she draws herself up, her body language is now confident. The other girl seems to shrink a bit.

“That we all did,” the skinny girl replies as nods and murmurs of agreement echo around the cave.

“Security are coming, it isn’t safe in here,” Celina says raising her voice so that everyone in the cave can hear her.

“How you know that?” A woman shouts from by the fire.

“I heard their dogs, I came in here to warn you all, that big house with the high fence, its’ search lights are on and its’ sirens are going off.” she says turning back to her horse.

“We can’t go out there it’s a white-out,” someone else complains.

“Better that than dying in here.” She answers flippantly and a murmur goes around the cave.

“That place housed Adams, the only reason the alarms would go off is if one of them escaped. We should hunt it and sell him.”

“Do you think one has escaped, I ain't never seen a man.”

“Worth a fortune they are, we could keep him use him and then sell him.”

What the hell!?! Carefully I pull the blanket so it conceals me some more.

“What and get shot when we get caught with one?”

“Better than getting shot in here,” murmurs go around the cave as I shrink further into my blanket.

 My attention returns to the red-haired girl as she unties her horse and leads it outside. I wait a while as a small procession of people who have taken heed of her warning get up and leave the cave.

I take my map out and try to get my bearings before getting to my feet and making my way to the entrance of the cave. I can feel the eyes of the five or so people that remain upon me, including the girl that had spoken to the redhead.

The snow is coming down harder now and it is hard to figure out where I need to go. Eventually, though the old oak comes into view along with the redheaded girl and her horse.

“Are you alright, are you hurt?”  My teeth are chattering so much that it is easier to just nod. The dogs are really close, their incessant barking the only sound over the wind, torch light on the bridge.

“No, I am not hurt,” I stutter through chattering teeth.

“Good, now get on the horse,” she commands, automatically I obey. She pulls my blanket tighter around me and wraps her arm around my waist. I’m not used to being touched by strangers and flinch. If she notices she doesn’t say. She walks the horse deeper into the wood. The dogs and torch light are very close but the overgrown wood with its straggly trees and weed shrubs obscure us from view. The snow is falling so thickly our hoof prints disappear faster than they are made as the storm swallows us. The last sound I hear is a popping noise followed by screaming. The girl kicks the horse into a gallop. The screaming fades, hunching tighter into my blanket I dip my head in an attempt to combat the snow and cold.

***

After what felt like a long time she slows the horse down from the crazy speed we were doing to a gentle trot. I can feel my eyelids getting heavy as the cold sucks all my energy. Jerking awake I notice that she is talking and try to get my cold sluggish brain to register what she is saying.

“Hey Thom, I have a boy, young, not retirement age. Yes, alright, no he isn’t mine. The place was on lockdown, sirens going the works, security everywhere. Okay, will do that, talk to you later, bye.”

***

 Someone is rubbing me vigorously; she has removed my boots and wet trousers. I look around and see we are in some sort of barn tucked between some large round bales of straw. It is relatively warm in here, out of the biting wind. The girl lets go of me when she sees I am awake. I scoot away from her pulling the blanket tight around me.

 “Please don’t touch me.” She ignores me and rummages in her large bag before throwing a pair of jeans at me. Catching them I pull them on. She looks at me and sighs, before getting up and seeing to her horse.

The jeans are an odd fit and I guess they are hers. “That’s a nice horse. I’ve never seen one up-close before.” I remark. It is quite a magnificent horse, its coat a deep chestnut brown with a white patch on its face, and feet.

“Thanks, his names Bob.” She replies before continuing to talk to the horse. Her short red hair is poking out from under her woollen hat, and occasionally she glances at me as she pats Bob down.

She finishes with the horse and sits next to me pulling a blanket around her. She shuffles closer to me and I try not to flinch as her shoulder brushes mine.

“We’ll stay here for a bit until the storm passes,” she gazes at me again with her piercing green eyes. Nodding I pull my hood up and close my eyes. I don’t talk, in all honesty, I have no idea what to say, her capability is intimidating.

***

I am startled awake as an elbow jabs my ribs and instinctively grab my knife, my eyes scan the barn but only the girl is there. She smiles at me and carries on folding her blanket, putting my knife down I pull my boots on, yuk they are damp and cold, she walks over to me and gently wraps a blanket around my shoulders. I don’t mean to but I flinch at her touch again, blushing I cast my eyes down.

It is still dark but I notice the quiet as the wind has dropped indicating the storm has passed. Glancing at my watch tiredness still tugging at me, its luminous hands read it’s just past four am.

“Adam, are you alright,” Her voice startles me, her eyes sweeping my body checking me over. I feel a little unnerved by her piercing gaze. I’m still unsure of whether she knows my name or not.

 “Yes,” coughing to clear my throat feeling heat creep up my cheeks, how pathetic. She steps closer her eyes on my face, meeting her gaze I can’t look away.

“You are so beautiful,” her voice comes out as the barest whisper as her hand comes up to touch my face my feet move me back just out of reach breaking the spell.

Frowning I wonder what she was expecting. I pick up my knife and sling my bag over my head. She gives me a boost up onto the horse and jumps up behind me urging the horse forward as she does. The snow has nearly stopped now and the wind has dropped, but I still feel cold and so hungry, hopefully, we will go somewhere with food soon.

 “Where are we going?” Looking around the rolling fields of the countryside has given way to abandoned industrial units indicating we are getting closer to the town. “I’m hungry,” it comes out in a moan, there is no stopping the blush on my cheeks as I realise I said that out loud.

“We need to pick up some things and then I will get something for us to eat alright,” she gazes at me a moment her look soft as she smiles. It unnerves me so I run my hands through my hair checking there isn’t any straw in it or something. She steers Bob toward a derelict camping and outdoors store, I frown wondering why she would bring me here. She helps me down and I follow her into the store, it’s dark and dirty, cobwebs brush my face making me shiver, left over stock and junk is strewn around the floor. She walks between the bare aisles towards a door at the back of the store.

 “Why are we here, this place is empty?” I hiss at her.

“Because every woman and her dog are out looking for you and I don’t fancy getting caught, so we need some supplies,” she hisses back, I glare at her.

“What sort of supplies?”

“A tent and something warm for a start, it's blooming freezing.”

“I hate camping,” I mutter, she smirks at me.

“Yeah, me too,” she confesses and I can’t help but chuckle. She pulls out the gun holstered at her hip and carefully turns the handle of a door at the back of the shop. She slowly pushes it open and cautiously enters the room, weapon raised. “Come in Adam, it’s all clear,” she says and I follow her into the room. It looks like it used to be the shop’s office as there is a dirty looking desk in the middle of the room with a mouldy looking chair behind it. It’s what’s in the corner of the room that captures my attention though. Piled in the corner are a tent and sleeping bags as well as clean sets of winter clothes.

“Where did all this come from?” Peering around I can’t help but check we are alone here.

“Some friends of mine left it for us. Stop gawping and help me carry it back to Bob,” she replies as we pick up the supplies and carry them back through the abandoned store and outside to where Bob waits. I watch as she fastens the tent and sleeping bags to Bob, she doesn’t ask for my help and I don’t offer any.

We climb back on the horse and head deeper into the town, which appears mostly abandoned. As we get closer to the centre it becomes obvious that at least some people still live here as I sometimes catch glimpses of figures moving about and we occasionally pass a tethered horse. We approach a garish one-storey building. Which I assume is a restaurant, as there are posters of food in the windows. The girl helps me down off Bob and then grabs a couple of bags we had taken from the camping store; she then turns her attention to me.

“You look a lot like a girl,” she mutters as she messes my hair up pulling it forward. I try my best not to flinch or push her hand away. “Just don’t talk too loud, you have a deep voice for such a small person,” she smirks at my scowl as I take offence. I’m not small I am taller than you, I think to myself. I huff and follow her inside my hands jammed into my trouser pockets.

 I have never been ‘outside’ and have certainly never been in a place like this, shuffling onto a red bench seat, at one of the brightly coloured plastic tables in a corner, hidden from prying eyes and eavesdroppers. Part of me wonders how clean the place is, and another part of me is so hungry I don’t care. The girl comes back carrying a tray she places it on the table and passes me a small box, something wrapped in paper along with some chips and a drink.

Pulling the paper off I find a burger inside. I am so hungry I more inhale the burger than eat it, never ever been this hungry before. Looking up I see her smirking at me, lowering my gaze I open the box she gave me finding another bigger burger inside.

“Hungry were you?”  She raises an eyebrow as I grin through a mouthful of burger. She studies me as she chews slowly.

“Yeah, you could say that.” I manage between gulping down one mouthful and going in for another.

 “I didn’t know what you would like so I got you the same as me.”

“I don’t know what I like here either, but this is nice.”

“Are you telling me you have never been in a burger bar?” Her eyes widen in shock as she stares at me.

“Um we aren’t allowed out, so yeah, I have not been in a burger bar,” I reply taking another bite out of my burger.

“You look cute when you smile, you have dimples it’s cute, how old are you, fourteen?” Meeting her gaze I stop chewing and swallow to answer.

“Um no, I am seventeen,” I reply, noticing a bit of sauce I lick it off my finger while watching her delicately eat her burger.

“How old are you?” I ask partly curious and partly trying to size her up.

“Nineteen, you’re not very big for seventeen” she cocks her head to one side and studies me. She picks up another fry and eats it “its cos your pretty and delicate looking,” she finishes and I roll my eyes and she grins.

“I used to get teased about that all the time by the other boys. They used to get me to play the girl if we put on plays it was awful.” I explain as she grins at me. My features although perfect are just too delicate to be described as handsome; I have got used to people commenting on how pretty I am.

“Well it will make it easier to hide you, at least” she chews on her burger and I finish eating mine. Why are you helping me again? I don’t think that you mentioned it in the cave.” I probe.

“No I didn’t” She replies her gaze not meeting mine.

“Are you going to dress me up as a girl?” I raise an eyebrow and she chuckles.

“Maybe, do you have a problem with that?” She gazes at me quizzically and I suspect she is laughing at me again. I start to relax; it’s nice talking to her. She is an odd looking girl. Her most striking features are her green eyes. They are pure green, not watered down with brown or blue and she has freckles over her nose. I wouldn’t call her beautiful but she is pretty I suppose. The burgers have taken the edge off my hunger and it is warm in here, being cold all the time is tiring.

“No,” but actually I think I would object to a silly dress even if it was going to save my life. Maybe keep hold of my masculinity a little bit. Pushing away the drink that has gone watery I decide a skirt combo might be all right. Why am I thinking this?

“We should use the facilities while we are here, you know clean up a bit.”

“Why?” it just slips out, she stops what she is doing and looks at me a quizzical expression on her face.

 “It’s quite a way to the house and we have at least one night in the tent.” She says one eyebrow raised. Oh, do I smell? When she isn’t looking I smell myself. I don’t smell that much so relax, well I don’t think I do. I mean I don’t smell like I do after playing hockey, maybe girls have a more acute sense of smell than boys. I decide to go along with what she says anyway. Pushing back the chair I climb to my feet, following her into the restroom.

She passes me the waterproof brown coat. It is lovely and warm, it’s padded and has a fleece lining that is soft and snug, the hood is fur lined and the whole thing reaches to my mid-thigh enveloping me in cocoon like warmth. Standing still while she removes all the tags, zipping it up and she pulls the hood up hiding my face. I fold up my blanket as I don’t need it now I have the coat. She takes my hand and leads me out of the restaurant which is now getting busy.

As we walk towards the exit two Gen Corp security guards walk in. I freeze in terror as they walk towards us. Their helmets are off and they are talking amongst themselves and smiling. For a moment I think that they are going to arrest me but instead, they walk straight past and head towards the counter.

“Come on Adam lets go.” The girl hisses trying to spur me back into action. I begin to walk again when someone taps me on the shoulder from behind.

Excuse me, ma’am.”

I freeze again, slowly I turn to meet the security guards gaze.

“I feel like we’ve met before, do I know you from somewhere?” The security guard asks.

“Be cool, I will handle this” The girl hisses in my ear as I open my mouth to speak.

I immediately closed it again and stare at the security guard gormlessly.

“You must be mistaken officer, my friend here is a newly purchased Adam,” The girl says her tone stern and business like as she steps between me and the security guard.

“I am escorting him to his new Mother” She continues her hand moving slowly to the pistol holstered at her waist.

Their eyes immediately focus on me. I know just seeing me is  shocking to them and I decide to use this to my advantage. They both appear to relax as they look me over.

“Look at him, I ain’t ever seen a boy before,” the shorter one says stepping nearer me and looking at me closely. I stay absolutely still as a sudden movement and they might shoot me.

“He looks more like a flat chested girl than a boy,” the other remarks.

“Do you think we should check?” shorty asks and I swallow not liking that idea.

“Dunno, which part is different,” the other one undoes my coat and shrugs.

“You will not touch him unless A. you have a permit or B. you want me to take this up with your superiors. Who did you say your CO was again?” The girl asks her tone deadly serious.

Both the guards backup slightly, straightening up as their expressions become more serious.

“Show us your papers and his movement orders” the taller one commands. Once they find out we have no documentation this game is up. I stand nervously my head bowed hands behind my back as I have been taught, a display of submission.

“Here” I almost bring my head up in shock and it takes all my training not to.

The shorter guard takes the papers from the girls hand and spends some time looking them over.

“These seem to be in order,” shorty says as she hands them back.  “I need to catalogue his number.”

“Of course” the girl takes my arm with the tattoo on it and shorty runs her scanner over it.

“These are dangerous times you should have more protection with you.” The other says still gazing at me with a hungry look that I find unnerving.

“That encourages too much attention; besides this one is so pretty he looks like a girl.” She laughs as she takes my chin and shows them my face it takes an enormous amount of will power not to react.

“In deed, he does” the security laugh as the girl takes my hand and pulls me away.

 

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Chapter Three Trust

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Chapter Four The House

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Chapter Five Sophie

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Chapter Six Running

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Chapter Seven Commune

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Chapter Eight Life has more questions than answers

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